Sun-Sentinel by Skylar Swisher
April 22, 2020
Florida nursing homes will now be required to inform all residents and their families if a case of the new coronavirus is detected.
The new federal transparency requirement comes as families complain that they have been left in the dark about the virus, which is particularly deadly when it spreads through nursing homes filled with vulnerable elderly patients.
“It’s important that patients and their families have the information that they need, and they need to understand what’s going on in the nursing home,” said Seema Verma, administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Nursing homes will have 12 hours to inform all residents and their families of a confirmed coronavirus case. Administrators also must disclose when three or more staff members or residents exhibit respiratory symptoms within a 72-hour span, even if test results are still pending and the illnesses are not confirmed to be COVID-19.
The guidelines will take effect “very soon,” according to a memo summarizing the new requirement, although an exact date has not been released. Nursing homes will also have to report cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nursing homes already are required to report COVID-19 to state health officials, said Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, a national advocacy group for improving conditions at senior care facilities.